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Birmingham, AL: True Survivors

The last two days have been filled with peril, chaos and mayhem as citizens struggled to just drive home from work, school or doctors’ appointments. But, being southerners filled with true grit, we have survived and risen to incredible compassion for our fellow man. There are multiple stories of how neighbors are helping neighbors dig out from the most misrepresented winter storm that I can remember.

However, putting all blame of slow school officials, unexceptional weather reporting and insufficient decisions by employers aside, we Birminghamians have once again shown that we will not be beaten by snow, ice or stupidity.

My parents were stranded at UAB Kirklin Clinic after showing up for a previously scheduled doctor appointment. Little did they know they were really scheduled for a sleepover.

Stranded in a doctor's office during a snow storm.
Stranded in a doctor’s office during a snow storm.

My mom, in true mom-fashion, turned this into a social event and likely stayed up all night having deep conversations with other patients, nurses and hospital staff. She probably came home with the best recipes and she will likely be friends forever with every soul stranded like her. Daddy, on the other hand, made himself a pallet and was surely snoring as soon as his head hit the carpet. This nurse thought he had the best idea.

According to the weather services in the area, Birmingham was going to experience a “light dusting” of snow, while cities south of Birmingham, from Montgomery to Mobile were under a winter storm warning. Our “go-to” weather man in the Birmingham area, James Spann, had the following forecast.

*Snow will begin tomorrow morning over North Alabama, but it will be light. There is a good chance you will see snow in Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Anniston, and Gadsden, but it should be light, and significant accumulation is not expected. No major travel issues are expected in these areas despite the snow.”

No major traffic issues?
No major traffic issues?

Don’t misunderstand me, James Spann is our “weather man.” He is rarely wrong during tornado season here in Alabama and most of the state tunes in to hear his forecast whenever the skies turn threatening. I guess snow is just harder to forecast in the south. In the spring, late fall and late winter our eyes turn upward and we watch for funnel clouds. After the clouds clear, we band together and re-build.

In the winter, we usually bundle up, wrap our outdoor pipes and throw another log on the fire about twice during the whole season. We’ve had about 3 major winter weather events that I can recall in my lifetime. An ice storm in 1982, the 1993 storm of the century and 2008 was what I would call a “light dusting.”

2008 Light Dusting of Snow in Birmingham, AL
2008 Light Dusting of Snow in Birmingham, AL

Frozen FountainPhoto Credit: Amy Burdette

During this “unnecessary freezing of water,” teachers cared for stranded children in schools, and a doctor walked 6 miles in the snow to perform a life or death brain surgery, (which he will get to talk about for years to come.) People shared their homes, phone chargers, 4 wheel drive vehicles and area businesses stayed open to house or feed those who were stranded.

Yes, Alabama has great football, beautiful beaches and some of the best chefs in the south, but more importantly; we have some of the best people in the nation. We have people helping people, each making the best of a very bad situation and ignoring headlines from other cities who like to make fun of the south every chance they get.

“Atlanta paralyzed by less than 3 inches of snow”

This headline from the Los Angeles Times, a city where these editors wouldn’t know a snowflake from a cornflake is quite insulting. Atlanta is our sister city and snow in the south happens about as often as you’d hear a left coaster ask a southerner to talk slower.

So, in true southern grit style, we’ll work hard, walk more miles in the snow than most in one day and show our strength in our ability to overcome. We will dig out of a ill-reported snow storm, ice on the streets and stupidity that runs much deeper than 3 inches in other parts of the country. We’ll survive. Just like we always do.,0,7911325.story#ixzz2rqym7oJ9

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